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Why the US has so many Filipino nurses

Published on 04 May 2021 / In Learning

The US colonized a country and built a labor supply.

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Filipino nurses have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in the US. That’s because they make up an outsized portion of the nursing workforce. About one-third of all foreign-born nurses in the US are Filipino.

Since 1960, 150,000 Filipino nurses have come to work in the US. And that’s because over the past century the US built a pipeline that draws nurses from the Philippines every time it faces a shortage. This system began in the early 20th century when the US invaded and colonized the Philippines and lives on through today.

To understand the long history behind the large presence of Filipino nurses in the US and how and why it continues to this very day, watch the video above. And let us know what you think in the comments!

If you want to learn more, here are some additional resources you can check out:

For a more in-depth look at the toll the coronavirus is taking on Filipino nurses check out the ProPublica piece ““Similar to Times of War”: The Staggering Toll of COVID-19 on Filipino Health Care Workers”

To browse more archive images of Filipino nurses check out this great digital exhibit by Ren Capucao, who was our main source of archival images for this video:

If you want to learn more about the history of Filipino nurses and the US check out this article by Catherine Ceniza Choy, featured in our video:

If you want to go even deeper, here is her book-length study “Empire of Care”:

To understand the colonial history of the Philippines, that starts well before the US invasion, with the Spanish colonization in the 16th century, you can start here:

To get a snapshot of the crucial role immigrant health care workers play in staffing the US health care system, here’s a study filled with insightful data by the Migration Policy Institute:

And for anyone looking to dig deeper into Filipino American history in the US, here is a link to the Filipino American National Historical Society:

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